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Covid-19 peak in India by mid-November, paucity of ICU beds, ventilators likely: ICMR-funded Study

The peak stage of Covid-19 pandemic in India has been delayed by the eight-week lockdown along with strengthened public health measures and it may now arrive around mid-November during which there could be a paucity of isolation and ICU beds, and ventilators, according to a study.
The study conducted by researchers from an Operations Research Group constituted by ICMR(The study is not peer reviewed)said the lockdown shifted the peak of the pandemic by an estimated 34 to 76 days and helped bring down the number of infections by 69 to 97 per cent, thereby allowing time for the healthcare system to shore up resources and infrastructure.
In the scenario of intensified public health measures with 60 per cent effectiveness after lockdown, the demand can be met until the first week of November. After that, isolation beds could be inadequate for 5.4 months, ICU beds for 4.6 and ventilators for 3.9 months, projections by the health researchers showed.
However, this shortfall is estimated to be 83 per cent less than what it could have been without the lockdown and public health measures.

With sustained government steps at increasing the infrastructure and different pace of epidemic in different regions, the impact of unmet need can be reduced. If the coverage of public health measures can be increased to 80 per cent, the epidemic can be mitigated, the researchers stated.

Sources said the study had errors and was not validated by ICMR. For instance, the study said that “on May 6, after the end of six-week lockdown, the reported cases in India were 5,29,872 which were 47% of cases estimated by our model in a scenario of lockdown with 40% effectiveness”. However, the health ministry has recorded only 3.32 lakh cases till date, much less than claimed in the study.

According to the model-based analysis for Covid-19 pandemic in India, with the additional capacity which has been built up for testing, treating and isolating patients during the lockdown period, the number of cases at the peak would come down by 70 per cent and the cumulative cases may come down by nearly 27 per cent.
In terms of Covid-19 mortality, approximately 60 per cent deaths were prevented and one-third of this mortality prevention is attributed to the reduction in unmet need for critical care as a result of the intervention, the analysis showed.
The researchers said the management of Covid-19 will involve a dynamic review of policies and significant strengthening of the healthcare system.
“While lockdowns will delay the onset of peak and will give the much needed time for the health system to respond, strengthening the health system response in terms of testing, isolation of cases, treatment and contact tracing, as is being done currently, will have to be the mainstay to reduce the impact of the pandemic in India until vaccine becomes available,” it said.

The overall economic health system cost of this pandemic is estimated to be 6.2 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The country saw a record spike of 11,929 cases pushing India’s Covid-19 caseload to 3,20,922 on Sunday while the death toll rose to 9,195 with an increase of 311 fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
India registered more than 10,000 cases for the third day in a row and is the fourth worst-hit nation by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ministry on June 9 said coronavirus related health infrastructure in the country has been strengthened with the availability of 958 dedicated Covid-19 hospitals with 1,67,883 isolation beds, 21,614 ICU and 73,469 oxygen supported beds.
Also, 2,313 dedicated Covid Health Centres with 1,33,037 isolation beds, 10,748 ICU beds and 46,635 oxygen supported beds have also been operationalised. Moreover, 7,525 Covid Care Centres with 7,10,642 beds are now available to combat Covid-19 in the country.
The ventilators available for Covid beds are 21,494, the ministry had said, adding that order of 60,848 more ventilators has been placed.

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